THE SICKNESS & THE CYCLONE

Hi. I’m still here. I didn’t disappear. The holidays were a plume. I saw snow in California and family in Arkansas and I orbited beneath a long full moon that made the dogs go ape and the humans sleep slow.

After the festivities me and my five suitcases headed back to Juniper in Musket Cove, on Malolo Lailai, in the Mamanucas Islands of Fiji. My suitcases are filled with boat gear, underwear, rainbow spoons, a drum, a headlamp, books, a camera, a paddle board, epoxy, peppermint oil for the roaches, lavender and cedar oil for the moths, and one bathing suit.

It took three planes, three days of quarantining in a hotel, two COVID tests, and high speed ferry to get back. I arrived in the nick of time. Tropical Depression TD03F is shaking up the sea and sky around Fiji. Earth sweating. Waves tossing. Raindrops falling. Thunder rolling. Coconut trees dancing.

TD03F is destined to develop into a category 1 cyclone but nobody has named it yet. A cyclonic storm is nothing without a name. Nothing is nothing without a name.

The ferry ride was all rock and roll with rain gushing out of every cloud. I watched the world out the window, warped by water, like the passing cloud of an octopus. As we entered the reef, the waves turned to jade and the rain fell harder. The Musket Cove anchorage is almost empty, most of the sailboats are long gone, running from this weather. As the ferry pulled up to the dock twenty people sang a Welcome Song. It made me cry. What doesn’t make me cry? A guitar. A song. A hello. A goodbye. I cry.

I slip-slide my way back to Juniper; down a dock, through some coconut trees, and onto the Armstrong dock in the inner circle. I can see instantly that Juniper is sinking. The waterline is two inches above the bottom paint. I climb aboard. The cockpit is filled with water and the cockpit floorboards are floating. Inside the bilge is flooded to the tip top and it smells like a bog with a thousand dead bodies.

I drain my little boat bathtub and read love letters written by Kurt Vonnegut to his first wife, Jane, while waiting for this no name cyclone to arrive. There’s nothing else to do. Juniper is already secure. She’s tied down by three anchors and two palm trees and her sails are all wrapped up.

I haven’t seen anybody since returning. Fiji is “Open for Happiness,” and New Year’s Eve was a super spreader, so a lot of my friends here caught The Vid. I wish I could tell you that I returned as fresh as a daisy and am now living high on the hog, but I caught some sort of sickness in the States too. My head is a balloon tangled in a tree and my nose is the size of a watermelon. You wouldn’t recognize me, I’m all incognito. Not one ounce of me is marigold at the moment. I know what you’re thinking, but all my tests are negative. Must be the Flu. Fly flu, fly.

The cyclone has a name now. Cyclone Cody. It’s my first cyclone with Juniper and it’s a crying shame that the moment the storm peaks, so does my illness. For 24 hours the rain is a wall of mustangs and I’m delirious. My dock lines tug and Juniper whirligigs. All the kingfishers fly away. Then my fever spikes. And the wind moans. And I can’t breathe through my nose. The palm trees come alive and toss coconuts. And my body aches, and my head throbs, and I vomit. The wind is almost 40 knots. I can feel the place where the water breaks. Through the rain. I sleep. I sweat. The fever falls. I watch the panthers through my porthole. My eyes aren’t crystal color anymore, they’re all dark like the sky.

From what I remember of my Cyclone Cody, he was really wet and he rode the wind wild but he lacked devotion or gumption or something, or perhaps it was I who lacked it. I can tell you for certain that Cody was not as near as vicious as my Flu.

Miss you.

11 Replies to “THE SICKNESS & THE CYCLONE”

  1. It is so good to see your post, Olivia — I am glad that you have arrived back in Fiji safely! I am so sorry to hear that you are still sick — the flu is terrible! You will feel marigold again, soon — I know it! I hope Juniper is doing better, too — were you able to figure out where the water was coming in? Looking forward to your next post. ~ Chelle and SV Sunflower xoxo

  2. Another enjoyable read. Thanks. Tough coming home to such a mess on your boat. Good on you for staying positive and tackling the job(s) at hand. Am wishing you fair weather for the remainder of the typhoon season. Hadn’t heard of Kurt Vonnegut’s letters to his wife. Looking forward to ordering that book. I met Kurt on a flight from Frankfort to Rome in the early 70’s. Great guy. He took a liking to me and suggested I stay at his hotel (Eden), which was way out of my price range. Spent a few days with him before I left for Cagliari to pick up a Cessna and deliver it to Nairobi.

  3. p.s I did end up staying at the Eden, but it cost me almost as much as my pay for delivering that Cessna to Nairobi

  4. Words that soothed my soul for the moment. I know this fever and flu you describe, it has found a home in my temple as I write this gesture to let you know I feel better im not in it alone.
    I’ll be Juniper was calmed by your arrival, her thinking the end was coming as she sensed that storm. Its always salvation when lovers meet again even in sickness. I’m certain Juniper will heal you as you heal her.
    Thank you so for letting us know that you made it back and holding firm. Until the next soothing words peace be with you dearest friend.

    SV HYDRA – Passages

  5. Liv , I always get sick when I fly. It’s just a fact. 3,000 vita C , and if you can get some chicken soup. Lots of sleep. I’m sure you miss Arkansas rite about now. Be well .

  6. Hope you are back to yourself tomorrow. Heard you were in town for Christmas! Always enjoy your posts!

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